Late November in Wisconsin does not typically bring to mind kids outside and tree planting, much less – together.
On Nov. 30 though, it was a little different at Salem School District in Salem, Wis. – mostly because the ground wasn’t frozen. In fact, it was a bluebird day – in the low 40s with only a moderately steady sting of cold wind. It was the perfect time to plant 20 trees, because trees actually can be planted in late autumn after their leaves have fallen. In the ground, the roots go dormant. And come spring, they take root as the snow melt transitions to rain.
But let’s back up.
American Transmission Co. committed to donating 355 trees to Wisconsin communities this year as part of a partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks called Trees for Threes. The program sponsors the planting of a new tree in Wisconsin for each three-point shot the Bucks made at home during the 2016-2017 season.
Salem School District received 20 of those trees, which came from a nursery. That’s not the unusual part.
The trees weren’t from just any nursery – but a nursery that ATC owns. Yes, it’s true – an electric transmission company can own a tree farm, albeit – we are not tree farmers. ATC purchased the former nursery property for the new Balsam Substation in the town of Wheatland in Kenosha County. Instead of cutting the trees, we transplanted them with the help of Paul Swartz Nursery. Salem School is one of the fortunate recipients.
Balsam Substation is part of the Spring Valley-North Lake Geneva Project, which will ultimately provide electric reliability throughout southeast Wisconsin when it goes into service in 2020. The project also includes an approximately 25-mile transmission line, and the new line will eventually cross the southern edge of Salem School.
Salem School Administrator Dr. David Milz couldn’t be more pleased with the new trees. “On behalf of Salem School, I’d like to thank the American Transmission Company, the Milwaukee Bucks, and Paul Swartz Nursery for teaming up and selecting us to receive free trees to help beautify our school grounds and contribute positively to our environment,” said Dr. Milz. “We look forward to seeing the trees grow and will certainly appreciate all that they bring for a very long time. The staff and students were excited to be part of this special event.”
At ATC, we have a commitment to the environment and the communities we serve. The Trees for Threes initiative aligns with ATC’s Grow Smart® program, which helps property owners and communities identify low-growing, compatible vegetation that can be planted the smart way – a safe distance from transmission line rights-of-way.
In the case of Salem School, the 20 trees planted on Nov. 30 now have the opportunity to grow and thrive – providing shade and beauty for students, parents and staff – for decades to come.
Interested in helping a school in your area receive trees too? ATC is distributing trees to schools for the 2017-2018 Milwaukee Bucks season, too. School representatives can learn more or register at www.bucks.com/trees.
American Transmission Co. has received the Tree Line USA award from the Arbor Day Foundation association for the eighth year in a row. The award recognizes utilities that are committed to best practices in utility arboriculture. To be recognized, utilities must adhere to industry standards for tree care, train employees and contractors on those best practices annually, provide tree planting and public education programs, have a tree-based energy conservation program and celebrate annual Arbor Day events.
“We care about the environment, and trees planted the smart way help enhance our communities,” said Ben Gura, ATC senior vegetation management specialist. “We are proud of our environmental commitment, and we’re honored to accept this award again this year.”
ATC is committed to environmental leadership in all aspects of our business, and we have a number of programs and practices designed to help the environment and trees.
ATC partners with the Milwaukee Bucks to plant one tree in Wisconsin communities for each 3-point shot the Bucks make at home through the Tress for Threes program. In 2016, ATC donated 355 trees to Wisconsin communities. This year, schools can apply to receive trees.
ATC’s Community Planting Program supports efforts to beautify communities in the ATC service area in a way that fits our safety and maintenance standards. Eligible cities, villages, towns, counties and tribes may apply for financial support for planting projects on public property.
ATC’s Grow Smart® program, in partnership with horticulturist and gardening expert Melinda Myers, helps property owners and communities identify low-growing, beautiful vegetation that can be planted the smart way – a safe distance from transmission line rights-of-way.
Because of ATC’s commitment to environmental leadership, we also have a Green Professional designation from the Green Masters Program, and we are a member of Michigan’s Clean Corporate Citizen Program.
American Transmission Co. employees enjoyed volunteering to help Kenosha School of Technology Enhanced Curriculum 5th graders as they explored Junior Achievement of Wisconsin’s JA BizTown.
JA BizTown combines classroom learning with an interactive, simulated town that helps students see the relationship between what they learn in school and their participation in a local economy. ATC volunteers coached students as they operated a bank, restaurant, city hall, newspaper, retail store and 10 other businesses.
“It was inspiring for our group to share time with the students and see what they were capable of when given the opportunity to run their own business, manage and motivate resources, handle conflict and still get their jobs done as CEO or CFO,” said Juanita Banks, ATC vice president of operational compliance and risk management.
Volunteers left feeling a bit tired but with a sense of accomplishment after trying to keep up with the positive energy of the students all day. It was a wonderful experience for all.
Dozens of families have a better understanding of security, safety and emergency preparedness after attending an ATC Ready Night Out event in October. American Transmission Co. employees, retirees and their families learned what it takes to be prepared for an emergency through displays and presentations from ATC’s security teams, local first responders, American Red Cross of Wisconsin, Infinity Martial Arts, gardening expert and horticulturist Melinda Myers, Alliant Energy and more.
ATC Ready is ATC’s preparedness plan to respond, restore and recover from emergency incidents. The ATC Ready Night Out event provides both children and their parents with tips and information on how families can stay safe in emergencies.
Families were able to explore Alliant’s bucket truck, learn how emergency responders save lives in an ambulance and even explore a real helicopter. At the event, children shared how their families are ATC Ready for any emergency through artwork. Scroll through the gallery to see some of their creations.
Editor’s Note: Now that students across the country are back in the classroom for a new school year, we asked American Transmission Co. team members to reflect on their youth and what they wanted to be when they grew up. Their stories represent paths to careers that ultimately help keep the lights on, businesses running and communities strong.
Carla Skowron, Senior system support specialist
At the age the photo was taken, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I liked watching television shows in hospital and paramedic settings.
How did you end up in your current career?
In high school, I really enjoyed business and accounting classes. A few years later, I started a job as a file clerk at an insurance company. I started to attend school for my accounting degree. I then moved up in my job to a position that involved working with computers. I quickly learned that I enjoyed the computer world. I finished my accounting degree and then started on my computer science degree. Years later, I moved to a corporate retail company and finished my computer science degree while working there. I moved to ATC after a long history of working in information technology and learning many different things that led me to the position I am in now.
Jordan Higgins, Information technology desktop administrator
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I initially wanted to be a musician or magician.
I’ve always enjoyed practicing and performing.
How did you end up in your current career?
When I went to school for music education, and I found it to be far more difficult than I had initially thought. I decided to take some time away from school and next thing I knew I was married and had a child. I went back to school, and once I was nearly done, I found ATC. After a couple of internships there, I was hired.